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Commute1995

  • 2.4
A key figure at the inception of San Francisco avant-garde film in the 1960s, Bruce Baillie finds beauty in the everyday, even challenging the notion that there is anything "avant-garde" about recording the world as it is. Baillie, in cartoonish drag, badly lipsynchs an overture to COMMUTE, mocking the viewer with the Cole Porter song "Experiment" ("Experiment / Make it your motto day and night / Experiment / And it will lead you to the light.") The film proper begins as Baillie takes the passenger seat of an older Honda and films an hour-long drive in the rain. Baillie's attention moves from passing images on the roadside to other vehicles to the raindrops that squirm across the windshield. Underneath the real-time gambol, Baillie supplies a soundtrack, ostensibly on a tape thrust into the car's cassette-radio player at journey's start, that lampoons local, folksy radio shows with snippets from movies, Golden Age radio, public service announcements and authoritative commentary by an incomprehensible child. The track lends a nostalgic air to a film devoid of humans as objects but filled with meditative rumination and startlingly poetic imagery, such as a large truck enveloped in the water spray kicked up by its own wheels. - Marilyn Ferdinand

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